This paper discusses several usability issues related to the use of gestures as an input mode in multimodal interfaces. The use of gestures has been suggested before as a natu- ral solution for applications that require hands-free and no- touch interaction with computers, such as in virtual reality (VR) environments. We introduce a simple but robust 2D computer vision based gesture recognition system that was successfully used for interaction in VR environments such as CAVEs and Powerwalls. This interface was tested under 3 different scenarios, as a regular pointing device in a GUI interface, as a navigation tool, and as a visualization tool. Our experiments show that the time to completion of sim- ple pointing tasks is considerably slower when compared to a mouse and that its use during even short periods of time causes fatigue. Despite these drawbacks, the use of ges- tures as an alternative mode in multimodal interfaces offers several advantages, such as quick access to computing re- sources that might be embedded in the environment, using a natural and intuitive way, and that scales nicely to group and collaborative applications, where gestures can be used sporadically.
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